Wow! Fresh off the mid-season finale, and it was a good one! However, as many things that were tied up, lots of other questions surfaced. Before we get into it in further detail,
Hearts Still Beating started off with a nice, almost montage. There were a lot of callbacks to things that happened in previous episodes, from Eugene being called out for watching to Maggie wearing a baseball cap–and even some direct dialogue. If you were on the fence about sticking with The Walking Dead, this episode should have put all those concerns to bed.
Dude, you know she’s pregnant: Maggie talks with Gregory as she stands on one of the lookout perches. He tells her not to let the talk of the town get to her head (about saving them from the walkers a couple days back). She asks him if he’s going to eat the apple he was shining up. After Gregory says yes, a man who was standing guard with Maggie says, “Dude, you know she’s pregnant”, and Gregory reluctantly throws the apple to Maggie. I love this scene and how it underscores how Maggie is growing into her leadership role. Gregory is firmly, yet subtly put into his place with the slightest effort.
Against the grain, kid…: We get a scene of Negan shaving and giving Carl advice. I think it’s more about life and less about shaving. We later see Negan making some sauce for pasta. I can’t help to think how much he reminds me of Hannibal Lecter with that white t-shirt. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) looks 10 times creepier without facial hair.
You like watchin’, ‘haircut’? Eugene was kind of in a daze as he watches Spencer interact with a couple Saviors. The two Saviors are pleased with Spencer’s scavenging ability. Spencer thinks his star is on the rise, which gives him delusions of grandeur.
Congrats for winning, but you still lose! Rick and Aaron navigate the lake of death, even as Aaron gets pulled under by a walker. They make it on board the house boat and loot it of supplies. Aaron comes across a note with a crude drawing of hand sticking out the middle finger. The note reads: Congrats for winning, you still lose!. Rick dismisses it as being a sore loser. Somehow the note makes it into the goods. As Rick and Aaron pull away with their truck we see a shot of a person’s boot. It oddly has some wire coiled up the leg. Not having read the comic, I do not know who it could be at all. Not the fuzziest idea. Which means, I will have to dig around.
Is that apple pie? Maggie smells it before Sasha walks in from outside. How’s that for super-hero sense of smell? She then digs into it and when Enid asks if she needs a plate, she quickly says no. Been there. I love these little life moments they put in. You don’t expect them, but usually, you appreciate them. At least I do! Enid sniffs out Sasha is lying about Jesus. Sasha tells her it’s to protect Maggie.
Maybe you are used to that: Richard pays a visit to Carol and finds Morgan there as well. This is a good thing as he wanted to speak with both. He tells them about the Saviors and how they need to strike them first. Little does he know Carol and a bunch from Alexandria already did that. What Carol doesn’t know is the repercussions from that. They both tell Richard they want no part of it. He gets really emotional and vows any blood will be on their hands, maybe they are used to that.
We need you: Rosita is examining her single bullet–in church, when Gabriel comes up to her. He asks is that’s for her or Negan. She says it’s for Negan. Gabriel then tells her she doesn’t have to die, and she is needed by the community. I like the emotion of this scene, and also how Gabriel continues to empower people with his faith and confidence.
It’s not just about getting by: After finding Dwight’s room, eating a little peanut butter, and changing clothes, Daryl makes it out of the complex he was in and finds his motorcycle. He also comes across Fat Joey finishing off a sandwich. Without much hesitation, Daryl picks up a long metal pole and goes Negan on the poor dude. I knew this would happen. This wasn’t all about rage though. I think Daryl killed him because he saw what happened when he let Dwight live.
Spencer for hire? Spencer brings Negan the remainder of some good liquor (single malt scotch?) and eventually shoots pool with him. During the game, Spencer makes his pitch to Negan for him to replace Rick as leader.
That’s Negan– The woman Michonne hijacked takes her to where Sanctuary is. Michonne finally sees how huge it is, and what they are really up against. The woman says there are still options; she should turn around, dump the car, and never come back. She also mentions there is a silencer in the glove box. Michonne turns the car around, pops the woman (you can hear it if you listened close) and drives off.
We wouldn’t obviously: As the Saviors unload the truck Rick and Aaron brought back, one of them finds the note with the middle finger on it and gets offended. Aaron is quickly singled out because “he has no place to be”, and is beaten up by two saviors. Rick is told to run along because Negan has been waiting for him.
It’s because you got no guts: Negan is suspect of Spencer’s motivation to replace Rick and questions why he came to him instead of just taking Rick out himself. It’s because you got no guts”, Negan says and then plunges a Rambo-style knife into Spencer’s belly. His guts are literally ripped out as Negan pulls the huge knife out. In grand Negan fashion, he states Spencer did have guts and he has “never been so wrong”.
Lucile’s smooth surface will never look the same: After seeing Spencer gutted, Rosita loses it and tries to shoot Negan in the face–with her one bullet. Lucile takes the bullet for Negan, literally and figuratively. Rosita is taken down. For some reason, Negan picks up the spent casing and forensically determines it was homemade. This prompts him to demand to know who made it. Rosita claims responsibility but Negan doesn’t buy it. Even after he has Arat cut into her face. Negan then tells Arat to kill someone, and she quickly spins around and shoots Olivia in the face. Eugene tearfully admits to making the bullet.
Relieving you of your bullet maker: Negan ominously tells Rick that he is taking Eugene. He then closes his eyes and holds Lucile close to him as he asks her for strength. I have to be honest, I thought he was going to turn on Eugene and smash his head in. Maybe he was asking for the strength not to kill anyone else. Negan than says he’s taking everything Rick found, and that is still not enough because of what happened “today”. Rick is furious, but ends up doing nothing but crying a little as he stands and quivers.
That’s why we have to fight: Michonne finds Rick in the cell Morgan constructed. They have a nice conversation about how she went off alone to find Negan and how they have way more people than they thought. She also says they need to fight “For Judith. For Carl. For Alexandria. For Hilltop”–hell I was ready to go. Rick says he knows now. He understands. I think it was a combination of Aaron getting beaten and Negan changing the deal as he sees fit.
Brother’s gotta hug: Rick, Michonne, Carl, Rosita, and Tara find their way to Hilltop. They reunite with Maggie, Sasha, and Enid. As they are all hugging each other, Daryl and Jesus come into view. Rick and Daryl embrace. Daryl does his patented head bow (like he did with Carol after Terminus). He then pulls out a gun–Rick’s Python, and hands it to him. The symbolism was strong. The scene ends with everyone looking at each other and kind of silently agreeing to go to war with the Saviors.
I always feel like somebody’s watching me: The episode ends with an outside view of Alexandria. The point of view seems like it’s 20 or so feet off the ground–a birds eye view. We then see a shadowy figure looking through binoculars. The figure then drops down to the pavement. We see a boot. The same boot with the wire coiled around the leg that was seen after Rick and Aaron left zombie lake.
As I said at the top, if you were struggling with the direction of season 7, this episode should have won you over, and reassured you that things were going to change. If it didn’t, The Walking Dead is probably no longer for you. Which is odd, because season 7 most accurately followed the comic than any other season.
Questions: Who’s the dude (or chick) with the boot, and what’s up with the wire? It’s creepy. It reminds me of when Morgan was following the group as they headed to Terminus. I have a feeling it’s the person who left the note, but I have no clue who or what that person is. They did claim you “still lose” so maybe there was a little surprise in one of the boxes they took–and gave away to the Saviors.
How pissed is Negan going to be when he finds out Daryl is gone? Will he kill Eugene? I kind of think he will force Eugene to make him bullets. Which just might keep Eugene alive long enough to be rescued. Remember–he does know how to pick locks. He also knows about explosives and might be able to make some “bad bullets” that will backfire when shot. Remember I said this!
Why did Rosita take out her gun in church, pull out the single bullet, and hold it up? It makes zero sense to me. Was she looking for a blessing? I just don’t get it.
How did the note make it back into the box? Even if they thought nothing of it, why would they leave that note for the Saviors, knowing they were going to go through everything?
For the love of Pete, why does Rick and Spencer give every. Single. Thing. To the Saviors? The rifle. The bow. Everything. Plenty of places to stash stuff. I know Rick was worried about the Saviors catching them with something, but they don’t have to bring it into the safe-zone.
Why does Negan go after Rosita’s casing, and how does he know how to tell it was “hand crafted”? This is as much as a peeve as it is a question really. Negan doesn’t have a military background. Maybe it’s easy to spot, but why would he even look at it to begin with. It’s one bullet. Surely they could have hid one bullet from him. Hell, they could have hid a whole lot more. Or found more when they go out on runs.
Did Daryl escape too easy? He’s a tough SOB and looks like Negan’s attempt to break him didn’t work. He’s back with friends now. Is it possible he could still be under Negan’s control? Could Negan have a “kill command” embedded in his sub conscious? Daryl is not in the comic, so we have no idea how this will play out. I am a little wary that his escape was way too easy. It could be lazy writing, it just seems odd that they would keep him away all season only to let him come back without a fight.
Zombie kill of the week: Rick will go HaM* on anything in the zombie apocalypse. Dead, living, floating. He has proven he doesn’t need weapons. Impromptu boat paddles, hell it had a pointy edge. That pointy edge found many a walker. You go Rick. You take your anger out on those floaters. We’ll have to wait a spell for him to square up on Negan and the Saviors. We got a glimpse of what he’s been holding back, and it was good!
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of season 7? I’m looking forward to Rick being more like Rick. Daryl too. I think the first half of season 7 was one of the best half-seasons to date, and simply cannot wait until the second half resumes. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments down below!
*Hard as a Mother F—–.